Saturday, November 2, 2013

What can I do? What Now?

I have not written for quite a while. But I feel compelled to make a plea for assistance.  Sean and Lia have been home for 7 1/2 months.  These 7 1/2 months have been full of huge rewards and huge progress.  We have loved every moment of it... even the hard parts.  They still show the same pure unbelievable joy to have a family that they did in the days after they arrived home.

But, I need your help.  I need for you to not turn away and ignore the tragedy and the disgust of the situation that millions of children face in their learning years. 

I have an eight year old boy who 7 1/2 months later still can't go to sleep by himself.  Memories of bullying haunt him.  Feelings of abandonment by his care takers magnify his insecurities.  Memories of going to sleep and waking in the morning to find that various room mates passed away haunt him.  The memory of a friend who had grown up in the orphanage with him who took his own life in their room, haunts him.  He often fears death.  He wonders if he will be burned when he dies like the caretakers burned the infants when they died.  Like he explained it: "they put them in the fire... and that's it".

His bottom was covered with the scars from diaper rash.  He has an abscess that still is not healed and was uncared for. Nobody had taken time to potty train him.  He is still learning that he can do things... even simple things.  He paints a wonderful cheerful outside... his survivor mechanism, but inside he is shaken.  Although he was surrounded by 30 other boys in his group, he does not know how to make friends.  Although the orphanage had a playground outside and a "swimming pool", he was never allowed to play on it... only stare at it out the window. Cole and Emma have taught him to play and to share and to run, swing, climb. 

I have a 13 year old daughter who once had a family.  But her tales of her father curdle your blood.  Stories of starvation.  Stories of him eating in front of her while she had nothing. Stories of isolation and neglect.  Stories of unbelievable physical abuse. Stories of sleeping out in the snow with no coat.

As she went into the orphanage for her protection at age 10, she was assigned to care for the babies.  A job she welcomed with excitement. Little did she know, the babies were very sick and many of them died in her arms.  As a pre-teen, she often fell apart when they died.  Crying for days and not being able to eat.  She too witnessed much of the death that Sean saw as the bodies of the dead babies were burned and as older children died.  Children with seizures were often allowed to die without medical care.  Hence when Emma had a seizure, she fully expected that she would die.

Now I will tell you, that along the way, there were some wonderful people who showed enormous compassion for both of them.  There were people who did their best to manage a difficult situation. There was one girl in particular that would bring food to Lia when her father would not.  She took her in for a time to protect her.  Her aunt and uncle eventually rescued her and took her to the orphanage to protect her.

I will also remind you that these stories are not isolated to these 2 children, but variations go on around the world daily.  Even domestically, we know that institutionalization is far inferior to a family. 

Sean often pleads for us to bring more children home.  Lia has decided to dedicate her life to helping bring hope to children without.   Since they don't have much of a voice right now, I will ask for them.  If you are able to adopt, adopt.  If you are able to support another family adopt, support them.  If you are able to donate, donate.  If you are inclined politically, stand up and make a difference.  Change the system.  Show compassion to someone in need. Fund raise.  Speak.  Love. Like. Share.

Imagine the difference you could make. Make the difference in a way only you can.

What now?


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 26- Self portrait.


The van pulls into the handicap space. 5 doors open and 8 people pour out. The beautiful mother from the driver seat, a young adult woman (designated the "white Chinese girl" by Sean and Lia) from the passenger seat, 5 Chinese kids and an old white haired dad from the rear. We decend on Baskin Robins with enthusiasm. The employees and patrons wonder if this is a daycare outing. But on further examination, it is a family. Mostly unaware of their perplexity. 

Life is good.
It's been over a week since we have been home and I'm still waiting for a meltdown from one of these kids! They smile and laugh all the day long! I am totally smitten by these 2 angels! We are so very blessed! Believe me, I put up with very little but there is never a reason to get angry...yet. They are fitting in very nicely! In fact, tonight I was thinking how they seem to have been part of our crew for a very long time! It's truly a blessing!
 On top of the daily care, the following are keeping us (mostly Doll) busy:

     Family Practice, dermatology, physical therapy, neurology, urology, Shriner's
     Kristin's 3 day pioneer trek, make 2 bonnets, make an apron, make a pioneer skirt,
     Plan a baby shower for friend,  Cole & Emma's baptisms, friend and missionary visits,
     letter to Tim.
     Placement testing, school registration, wheelchair/walker fitting,
     more paperwork (I thought this was over)

You could say life is busy, but we have had so much fun just being together.  The routine is becoming more normal. Sean and Lia sleep well and eat well. They seem happy and tell us they are happy. They often say "I love you" and "you're a good boy/gir"l. I'm amazed each day at how much English they have learned. 

Their siblings have been nothing short of amazing. Kristin translates, pacifies, and mediates. Cole watches as Sean and Lia get special attention sometimes, but understands their special situation and what they have given up more than I could have ever expected an 8 year old to understand. Emma has allowed is to connect with lia & Sean and willingly accepts her attention when it comes. 

Life is good!

Craig



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Home!

Yes we are home. I will start by saying that these 2 children have integrated better than any child we have ever adopted.  They are so sweet.  Lia smiles all the time.  Sean is so full of life... Just like the photos from the welfare institute below.

As we arrived in San Francisco, Sean and Lia were so excited about meeting their siblings.  Unfortunately, we didn't have Internet access so we couldn't google that we had one more flight.  Once we arrived and got through immigration, they were substantially grouchy after we told them we had one more flight before we say the siblings.

When we finally arrived at our destination and Sarah came driving up with Kristin, Emma and Cole, it was clear that the car was full of excited kids.  When Lia saw them, her huge smile stretched across her whole face. She was so thrilled to hug each one of them.  Sean was a bit more apprehensive but within a minute, he was totally enthralled with the commotion and hooked right into the group. We must have been a sight to the police officer who was trying to keep traffic moving.

The first night, they all went to bed great but Sean came in our room in the wee hours of the morning.  It seemed he was just awake due to the jet lag.  I took him back to his room and laid down with him for a while.  He settled down as Emma started with an OCD episode.  I left Sean to help Emma.  But before I left, I got a huge hug.  As I was holding Emma, Sean, began calling so once I got Emma calmed down, I went back to Sean.  After another round with Emma, I went back in with Sean.  By that time, as far as I can tell, they both slept the rest of the night.  I can't tell you for sure, because I crashed, but when I woke up in the morning, Sean was holding my finger in his hand.

On Saturday we went running around looking for church clothes.  Lia and Sean were so cute.  Sean and Cole wear rather same time and were like, why do we have to have separate clothes?  Why can't we just share them?  Lia just loves to be beautiful.  And she is.  Mostly from her great smile and personality.

Saturday afternoon, I had to attend a training meeting at church.  When I returned from the first session, Sean was a bit concerned that I had disappeared.  I had forgotten to let him know what was going on.  After that, I remember to tell him when I am leaving.

On Sunday, we took the kids with us to stake conference (20min late).  Sean sat in my lap for 1.5 hours and was completely content to be there.  They did get to color for the last hour.  This was their first opportunity to meet friends.  When conference was over, several families came by to meet the kids.  At first Sean was intrigued but soon retreated to the safety between Mom and Dad.  Lia was a bit more tolerant and was intrigued by a friend's electronic wheelchair.

We (aka Mom) are still trying to figure out how to get 5 kids ready for school in the morning and the kids are still trying to figure out what to eat. But both kids are such a joy.

I don't know how we could possibly be so lucky.

Craig




Lia and Sean spent hours doing StarFall on the iPad.  What a great tool.


Finally the sun went down and Sean and Lia began to understand that they needed to sleep. Not that they did.  It was really only the last few hours on the flight that they slept.



Sean was a bit nervous when it finally came time to meet the siblings. 

Lia was a thrilled to meet the siblings.

Monday, March 18, 2013